Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Karl Keating Finds the Word of God and the Holy Spirit "Inadequate Reasons"
01/17/2012 - Tur8infanBack in 1987, at the Bayview Baptist Church, Karl Keating engaged in a debate against Peter Ruckman. Although Dr. White has had an open challenge to Keating since October of 1990 (see the discussion here), we have yet to see a debate between Karl Keating and James White. Perhaps this critique will prompt Keating to step up to the debating podium again, this time with a serious Reformed opponent. Even if it does not, it may be worthwhile critiquing his points, since Keating's points get repeated (in some form) by many folks who listen to "Catholic Answers."
After some pleasantries, Keating begins his presentation with an argument regarding inspiration. He asks the question: "How do you know that the Bible is inspired?" He then offers several options and tries to knock them down. He identifies the following as inadequate reasons:
1. Cultural Reasons
2. Family Tradition
3. Inspirational - It Moves Me
4. The Bible's Own Claim to Inspiration
5. The Holy Spirit Tells Me So
Before we get to Keating's proposed alternative to these allegedly inadequate reasons, let's consider his five "inadequate reasons." The first three reasons look a lot like straw men. Maybe someone somewhere thinks that the Bible is inspired because it is inspirational, or because their family told them so, or because society deems the Bible to be important. These, however, are hardly very serious arguments.
Exactly the opposite is the case for numbers 4 and 5. The ideas that the Bible proclaims its own inspiration (and indeed it does) and that the Holy Spirit confirms that inspiration to us (and He does) are actually the historic Reformed and "Protestant" position on the subject.
Keating claims that these are "inadequate." Consider the implication, though. The implication is that even if God himself tells you that the Bible is inspired, that's not a sufficient basis upon which to believe that the Bible is inspired. That implication borders on blasphemous. What could be more sufficient as a basis than that the Bible claims inspiration and that the Holy Spirit confirms it? Of course, there cannot be - but before we proclaim that dogmatically, let's see if Keating has located something better.
Keating's alternative is to provide his "spiral argument" (which I've previously critiqued here).
The steps he proposes are as follows:
1. Look at the Bible as though it were a non-inspired book.
2. Discover the Bible's historical reliability.
3. Discover that Jesus said he would found a church.
4. Conclude that the church must have the gift of infallibility.
5. Conclude that the church must have the look of the Roman church.
6. When Rome tells us that the Bible is inspired, we can know that it is inspired, because the church is infallible.
Keating calls this his spiral argument, but that may just be a distraction. In addition to the question of circularity, there are at least two other problems.
First, we can adopt his (1) and (2) and then discover that Paul was a true Apostle of Christ and explicitly taught the inspiration of Scripture. There's no need to go to (3), much less to the rest of the series.
Second, even if we go to (3), there's no teaching in the Scriptures that the church is or will be infallible, or even that "the church" will be in a position to speak as "the church." There's nothing about the church (as described by Jesus during his earthly ministry, or otherwise throughout Scripture) that requires the church to be infallible. Therefore, there is nothing to get us from (3) to (4).
To those two strong points, we could also add a weak third point, namely that (5) is likewise easily rejected. The Roman church doesn't look like the Apostolic church as described in the New Testament. It doesn't have a plurality of elders in every city. It has a limited priesthood where the New Testament church had a universal priesthood. Most significantly, it has a papacy, whereas the only head of the Apostolic church is Christ.
I call this point weak, because if you have already concluded that "the church" must be infallible, you've conceded a point that you should not. Indeed, on that hypothesis you would have nowhere to go - because there are no churches that look like the Apostolic church and also claim to be infallible (to my knowledge - at least).
The Foundation of Our Religion is the Word
01/03/2012 - Tur8infanA poster using the handle "Gabriel Serafin" wrote:
Protestantism is a religion based on a book. But Jesus Christ did not hand out
Bibles, He established a Church and gave her authority to teach. God gave us the
Bible through His Church; thus the Catholic Church defined the Canon of
Scripture in the first place. "Bible-only Christians" who dismiss the teachings
of the Catholic Church are simply living in a state of ignorance and false
understanding of Christianity. James White is merely one voice among thousands
of voices spreading a cacophony of noise and confusion against the Church that
was established by Christ. Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible..
The Holy Spirit inspired the Bible. The fact that Jesus himself did not "hand out Bibles" is hardly a compelling point, given that he frequently quoted from the old testament Scriptures and commanded his theological opponents to "Search the Scriptures."
Moreover, the final book of Scripture is the Apocalypse, which describes itself as "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him ... ." (Revelation 1:1) Us folks who follow the Book know this, or at least we should. So, while it would be inaccurate to say Jesus "handed out Bibles" he certainly gave us the Bible, not only by virtue of being the Word made Flesh, and the capstone of the prophets ("God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son" Hebrews 1:1-2) but also by delivering this final Revelation to John by the hand of an angel ("... sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." Revelation 1:1-2) just as also the Pentateuch was delivered ("it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator" Galatians 3:19).
You may say that Jesus established a church, and indeed Jesus did. But Jesus did not establish a church headed by some other man, but rather he is the head ("gave him to be the head over all things to the church" Ephesians 1:22; "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" Ephesians 5:23; "he is the head of the body, the church" Colossians 1:18). Jesus did not tell us that the bishop of Rome is to be a second head - as though when a husband is bodily absent some other man can fulfill that husbandly role with his wife.
In fact, the apostolic writings provide us with zero documentation of any papacy. There wasn't one. Christ did establish his church, but modern Rome is not that church.
In fact, the implied conception of "the church" is foreign to the New Testament scriptures. The expression "the church" in Scripture can refer to various things, such as the local body of believers or to the entire category of all believers. It is faith that defines the church, though - not the other way 'round.
Christ built his church on himself, the Rock and our only Rock:
- "He is the Rock" Deuteronomy 32:4;
- "he forsook the God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation" Deuteronomy 32:14;
- "Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee" Deuteronomy 32:18;
- "except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?" Deuteronomy 32:30;
- "There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." 1 Samuel 2:2;
- "The LORD is my rock" 2 Samuel 22:2;
- "The God of my rock, in him will I trust" 2 Samuel 22:3;
- "who is a rock, save our God?" 2 Samuel 22:32;
- "the LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation." 2 Samuel 22:47;
- "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me," 2 Samuel 23:3;
- "The LORD is my rock" Psalm 18:2;
- "who is a rock save our God?" Psalm 18:31;
- "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted" Psalm 18:46;
- "O LORD my rock" Psalm 28:1;
- "be thou my strong rock" Psalm 31:2;
- "thou art my rock" Psalm 31:3;
- "I will say unto God my rock" Psalm 42:9;
- "He only is my rock and my salvation" Psalm 62:2;
- "He only is my rock and my salvation" Psalm 62:6;
- "In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God" Psalm 62:7
- "thou art my rock" Psalm 71:3;
- "they remembered that God was their rock" Psalm 78:35;
- "Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation" Psalm 89:26;
- "the LORD is upright: he is my rock" Psalm 92:15;
- "my God is the rock of my refuge" Psalm 94:22;
- "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation" Psalm 95:1;
- "he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel" Isaiah 8:14;
- "thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength" Isaiah 17:10;
- "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:" Matthew 7:24;
- "Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock" Luke 6:47-48;
- "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." Acts 4:11;
- "Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" Romans 9:33;
- "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4;
- "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, " 1 Peter 2:4; and
- "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." 1 Peter 2:6-8.
Yet against that backdrop, you will foolishly assert that Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16:18? Why, because Peter's name means "rock"? Do you not know that Peter is called "Bar Jona" because of his relationship to his fleshly father Jona? If so, then why do you not understand that Peter is called Peter because of his faith in the Rock, namely in Christ.
The foundation stone is Christ, as it is written:
- "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." Isaiah 28:16
- "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:11
Yes, there is some secondary sense in which we are built on the apostles (all of them, together with the prophets): "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:20) but notice who is the one rock on which everything else is built: it is Christ.
The Bible did not come from "the Catholic church" it was delivered to the prophets and the apostles. Most of the books were delivered in the Old Testament period, before "the Catholic church" even claims to have existed. The rest of the books were delivered by the apostles and the evangelists. The claim the Scriptures make about themselves is that they are God-breathed ("given by inspiration of God" 2 Timothy 3:16) not church-breathed.
When Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians he expressed it this way: "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)" (Galatians 1:1). Those are not the words of someone who needs to run it past the church, or even past some imaginary 1st century pope. Instead, Paul received divine revelation from Christ and was inspired to hand it on to us in writing.
God used many people, including unbelieving Jews, to preserve the text of the Bible for us. We are thankful for God's providence in that regard. Nevertheless, their role in preservation of the Scriptures is no endorsement of their theology.
Indeed, those in the English-speaking world ought rather to say that we received the Scriptures despite Rome, rather than because of Rome. Wycliffe's translation of the Bible (from the Vulgate!) was suppressed, as was Tyndale's translation from the Greek. To be a Bible translator in those days was to risk persecution, yet men did the work necessary to get God's word into the language of those in England.
The idea that "the Catholic Church defined the Canon of
Scripture in the first place" is laughable. Rome's first "infallible" definition of the canon of Scripture was at Trent - after Luther's death. That's hardly "in the first place." Moreover, even if one goes back all the way to the North African Councils that came the closest to the Tridentine canon, they weren't the first canons of Scripture to be provided. Athanasius managed to provide a canon of Scripture before the north Africans. Moreover, it is plain that others before him (such as Origen) had a canon of the Scripture.
Who is living in a state of ignorance about Christianity? Those who follow the teachings of Christ and the apostles, which are set forth in Scripture? Or those who instead following the teachings of Rome, whether or not they contradict what Scripture teaches?
James White is merely one voice among thousands
of voices, one witness amongst a great cloud of witnesses. Yet referring to his appeals to the authority of Scripture as "cacophony" suggests that the author of the comment has a confused idea about Scripture.
Would that "Gabriel Serafin" would cast aside his mistaken idea that Christ's church is founded upon Peter and instead recognize that Christ's church is founded upon Christ, the true Rock of our salvation.
The Continued Dishonesty of the CA Forums
01/01/2012 - James WhiteWe have noted recently the insular nature of the Catholic Answers Forums. We have also documented the libelous false accusation of one of their users, whose screen name is Ignatius, alleging that we have edited debate tapes, an accusation made not by a named individual with any direct evidence, but by a forum member who, evidently, is free to make any kind of false and libelous statement he wishes to make in those forums without consequences. This person has shown that he is not only willing to spread false information about others without providing any evidence, but he does not think well either. In the midst of a current thread filled with some of the most amazingly facile and silly statements about Reformed theology I have ever seen (by some fellow whose name is jmcrae, a "forum elder,") Ignatius has written,
The point is that Mr. White does not permit any disagreement or even comments on his blog. If he has a disagreement with what is said on CAF, I invite him to post a correction here. However he does not permit others to post corrections to his statements on his own site.
This blog is not a web forum. I do not invite every person, including those who are dishonest, like Ignatius, to participate in writing for this blog. This is not a place for debate. I do those fairly regularly. This is not the Dividing Line, where we provide a toll-free number to call. So there is no logical parallel between the CA Forums and this blog.
If Ignatius has the temerity to defend his libelous statements, he is free to call the Dividing Line and do so. Notice that while he is making the allegation of editing of debates, he puts the onus upon me to "correct" his own false allegation. This is the standard behavior of the dishonest individual.
Just like Guardian a few years ago, we expect Ignatius will move on to some other topic of discussion, and the libel will remain on the CA Forums, unchallenged. Then you will see it resurrected as a "fact" by some future participant. This is how myths and legends get started, and those who do not know, and love, the truth, relish such falsehoods.